Posts Tagged ‘justice’

There must be some hurry

October 20, 2010

Even though the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Roderick Nunley’s stay of execution yesterday, and the U.S. Supreme Court did likewise, Missouri’s Attorney General will continue to press for his execution. The state has until midnight tonight to complete the  execution on its planned date of October 20.

I wish, often, that our legal system was as interested in justice as it is in vengeance. Why, if there are legitimate legal issues surrounding Nunley’s case, would anyone want to press on toward taking his life? There must be some hurry I don’t understand.

A small attempt to be present

October 13, 2010

Missouri has an execution scheduled for 12:01 a.m. on October 20. I have known Roderick Nunley for nearly 5 years, and we have talked on a regular basis during my chaplain visits at his cell door.

On the evening of October 19, I will hold my own personal vigil as a small attempt to be present to the reality of what’s happening in that space and time.

All it takes is a little spark

May 15, 2010

“Eyes on the Prize” episodes 3 and 4 aired last Sunday. We recorded them for viewing during the week. 5 and 6 air tomorrow at noon in Saint Louis. Still can’t shake two dominant feelings as I watch the retelling of the civil rights struggle: embarrassment and sadness.

The fact that I tended to be somewhat oblivious to the magnitude of what was happening at the time illustrates, to me, how we are historically and culturally conditioned to interpret what we see and hear. Our conditioning also influences what we even bother to pay attention to. All I remember at the time was how mindless I thought the behavior was of those in the southern states. I hadn’t had enough inter-racial experiences to have the visceral reaction I have today.

It was a sad time in our history, and there are vestiges of that same fear and hatred deeply imbedded today. All it takes is a little spark to light the fuse for them to coalesce and bubble to the surface. And there are plenty of folks who still know how to play the game and get those sparks started.

Economic strife, the drum beat of xenophobia, demonizing those who need help, having one of “those people” in the White House, seeing a terrorist behind every bush, imagining that someone is taking our country away from us … all of that creates the perfect storm for foolish, thoughtless, and reckless actions.

I can’t help but wonder

May 12, 2010

My Room 101 in hell will resemble a before-dinner reception at an out-of-town business conference.  There are few things I dread more than walking into a room full of strangers for drinks, hors d’oeuvres, and small talk. Am I an introvert? You bet!

Naturally, I can’t help but wonder how or why I ever got started in prison ministry. Walking into a solitary confinement wing of 30-36 men, each one out of sight behind a solid steel door with a tiny window, has never been easy.

As I approach each door, I don’t know what to expect: what does he look like, where is he  from, how long has he been in prison, why is he  in solitary confinement. That I am extending myself beyond my comfort zone is an understatment.

It’s even worse when I haven’t gone to the prison for an extended period of time. When I went down yesterday, it had been 5 weeks. The longer I am away, the more detached I feel … almost to the point where I feel I don’t belong, that I don’t fit in. I experience a slight disorientation. Anxiety and discomfort begin to surface as I enter the prison.

On the other hand, setting foot in those housing units got me back into the game. Once I got going, was standing at the first cell door, became engaged in the first conversation, things smoothed out.

During an extended absence, I miss doing the work. I miss the ministry. I miss connecting with the men.

I’m glad to be back although the summer schedule does get a little fragmented and there will be more gaps in my visiting. When I’m not going to the prison on a regular basis, something is missing in my life.

I find little joy in just keeping busy; I need something to do, something that makes a difference in my life and the lives of others.

One offender said that he had never thanked me for the bookmark with the prayer of St. Ignatius of Loyola. I’m guessing I gave that to him a year ago. That’s why I go, to bring my presence or anything else to help add a little meaning to a pretty bleak existence.

How long it will take?

May 10, 2010

So, if Kagan is confirmed, who will feel unrepresented among the sitting justices on the U.S. Supreme Court?

Let’s see how long it takes for the undercurrent to surface among the opposition. Somebody’s nose is going to get bent. And the coded language will be interesting to watch.

I’m staying in!

May 3, 2010

Being under the weather for more than a week following our trip to Italy has had a tendency to tarnish a wonderful experience. Upper-respiratory infection aggravated by allergies, energized by the exhausting 27-hour day coming home, and the effects of jet-lag on any attempts to rest,  have come together to create a unique way for really feeling crappy.

Early this afternoon, we wondered where the plume was coming from as it stretched across our backyard. It turns out that a sudden breeze had lifted oak pollen off of our roof as well as the neighbor’s. I’m staying in!

Sunday at noon, here in St. Louis, “Eyes on the Prize” is being shown in three two-hour segments – one segment each Sunday.  I can’t recall how many times I’ve watched many of the six segments, but the whole thing remains gut-wrenching.  Watching the series is well worth being kept aware.

I’m hopeful for a program on the middle passage where anywhere from 16 to 60 million Africans died during their transport on slave ships. Their was apparently indifference in the record keeping to have an accurate number.